Pakistan Navy on Thursday announced the induction of its first Long Range Maritime Patrol at PNS Mehran, Karachi. The twin-engine modified Embraer Lineage 1000 jet will replace the obsolete P-3C Orion naval spy planes in the future. For short range’s Pakistan Navy posses Leonardo SeaSpray radar-equipped RAS 72 Sea Eagle aircraft.
As per open sources, the Italian company Leonardo was selected for the modification of the Embraer Lineage 1000 jet for the MPA. Leonardo has already converted its C-27J Spartan and the Franco-Italian ATR 42 aircraft and ATR 72 aircraft for Maritime roles. As a side note, the Pakistan Navy has also appointed South Africa’s Paramount Group for the pre-conversion maintenance, repair, and overhaul of the aircraft.
Strategic Affairs Researcher, Umair Aslam, Founder of the Pakistan-based Think Tank, ‘Global Defense Insight’ told Frontier India, “Pakistan Navy has inducted its first Sea Sultan. It is a Long-Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft and is on the verge of inducting seven to eight more. Interestingly the procurement of this aircraft is not from a single entity but rather sourced from multiple resource points. The Sea Sultan is an LRMPA that has been inducted to replace the Lockheed Martin manufactured P-3 Orion Maritime Patrol Aircraft. ‘Long range’ being the operating distinction.
“The induction of the Sea Sultan is part of a major modernization effort by the Pakistan Navy, which will see a host of new strategic maritime assets to be slated into service. It is worth noting that, unlike its contemporaries, for instance, the P-8 Poseidon in use by the Indian Navy, the Sea Sultan was not designed explicitly as an LRMPA, but rather customized as such.”
The inducted aircraft is devoid of any electronics which makes a plane be designated as a maritime Patrol Aircraft. Asked if Leonardo has equipped the Embraer Lineage 1000 jets, Umair Aslam said “Will equip. They haven’t done it yet. It’ll take time because it’s a new platform. Everything will have to be done from scratch.”
When asked about the configuration of the MPA, a military aviation analyst working at a leading Pakistani defence think tank, who wished to be anonymous, says “That’s classified. It will have various subsystems, including an internal weapons bay. Obviously, there will be ECM/ESM/EW systems. Whatever you’d expect in a modern ASW platform. It will also have the ability to fire anti-ship missiles. So it’ll perform ASuW, ASW, ISR.”
According to the Pakistani military analyst based in Islamabad, “the Sea Sultan Long Range Maritime Patrol Jet Aircraft will be equipped with various subsystems, including an internal weapons bay. The aircraft will possess Electronic Countermeasures, Electronic Support Measures, and Electronic Warfare systems along with the capabilities expected in modern Anti-Submarine Warfare platforms. The Sea Sultan will also be able to fire anti-ship missiles and carry out Anti Surface Warfare, Anti-Submarine Warfare, and Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance missions.”
As per Umair Aslam, the estimated cost of the plane “would be around 50-85 million, modifications are around 20-30 million per aircraft. The type of specifications we gave out (MTOW, range, endurance, size) could only be fulfilled by one aircraft: the Embraer Lineage 1000. Unfortunately, its production had been discontinued by the company that makes them. So we could only purchase them on the private market.”